After Ante Sundaraniki, Nani is back again with another offbeat film. Okay, maybe not so offbeat as we’ve had films with similar rustic 90’s setup come in the recent past (Pushpa, Kantara, KGF). The trailer was impressive, and with all the promotions and releases in multiple languages, does Dasara live up to the expectations?
Directed and co-scripted by debutant Srikanth Odela, Dasara is set in 1995, and tells the story of Dharani (Nani), his best buddy Suri (Dheekshith) and his lover Vennala (Keerthy). Dharani and Suri are drunk coal pilfers, and as anticipated, they get entangled with local village politics. One thing leads to another and Suri gets killed (this should ideally be a spoiler, but you knew this was coming from the word go!) We’ve seen tons of movies with a similar premise, and you’d think that this is heading in the direction of another Rangasthalam or more recently Narappa, but what differentiates Dasara is the grounds for the murder. This twist is handled well by Srikanth, but I thought it was revealed a little too early.
Nevertheless, the direction is neat. His vision is clearly evident on screen, which says a lot about a debutant. The screenplay, however, could have been a little more effective, particularly in the second half, as the movie was too predictable but for the one small twist revealed too soon. Films like these need to be more gripping, and that’s where Dasara fails to engage the audience. I also felt that Srikanth was trying too hard to incorporate all his inspirations into his first film (last shot in the climax was almost a replica of Kshatriya Putrudu, and even the post-climax episode was clichéd and unnecessary!)
On the casting front, Nani, Keerthy, Sai Kumar and Jhansi are the only familiar faces on screen. Oh wait, there was Samuthrakani as well, but was it really him? Anyways, as you’d expect, this was Nani’s show all the way. He puts everything into the character and does a fantastic job; his attire, body language, dialogue delivery, everything is just perfect (his mannerisms reminded me of yesteryear Rajinikanth). Keerthy is not far behind; her performance, specifically in a tragic death scene, is praiseworthy. Dheekshith Shetty is alright as the buddy. Shine Tom Chacko makes an impressive debut in Telugu films; he looks menacing, but I felt his character could have had more depth. Jhansi makes her presence felt, while Sai Kumar and Samuthrakani are both wasted.
Music by Santosh Narayan is a definite asset. Apart from “Dhoom Dhaam Dhosthaan” and “Chamkeela Angeelesi”, the background score during the cricket match and the climax fight are really good. Editing by Naveen Nooli is adequate. Cinematography by Sathyan Sooryan is excellent; “Dhoom Dhaam Dhosthaan”, the pre-interval bit and some of the climax elements are very spectacularly shot. It took a while to understand the dialogues in native slang, but you eventually get past this hurdle.
Is it worth your time and money?: Yes for Nani and Keerthy’s acts. But otherwise, the story is way too predictive, and the extreme violence doesn’t help. If only Srikanth refrained from the commercial elements and illogical fights but instead put efforts into a gripping screenplay, the movie could have been more impactful.
Worth mention: Nani and Keerthy’s performances!
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10
PS: I don’t think there was any need to make this a Pan-Indian film, especially in Hindi. There are a lot of local native superstitions which are too much for non-Telugites, especially North Indians.